First of all, social media companies moderate users’ posts to stay within the law. Child pornography and snuff videos are just a couple of examples of why they have to do it.
Beyond that, they have to consider public safety. It may be legal to post videos on how to poison your wife and get away with it, but it’s not something many advertisers are going to want to associate with. If they’re going to keep their advertisers, they’re going to need to stay within certain social norms.
And “social norms” is wherein the problem lies.
Conservatives say they are censored more than liberals. And that is true. But, for conservatives, social norms have changed. Today, Eisenhower would be considered a “libtard.” Today’s conservatives see nothing wrong with chanting “hang the Vice President.” Lying about winning an election is normal. If you lose, just deny it and destroy the Capitol if you can’t get your way. The peaceful exchange of power, the one thing that had always set America apart from other countries, is, for conservatives, no longer a “social norm.”
So, are Twitter and Facebook wrong for banning people like Trump and the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys for violating social norms when they have none? If Oath Keepers and Proud Boys can’t be banned, can Al Qaeda and BLM? Can ISIS openly recruit terrorists on Twitter? Can Trump?
14 thoughts on “Why Social Media Companies Moderate Users’ Posts”
The right wing has devolved into perpetual victim status. It has no platform, no ideas from the self-declared “party of ideas”, and no respect for the electorate.
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No argument on blocking advocacy of child abuse and other unlawful acts, but Facebook, for example, moderates posts on climate science to suppress one point of view.
The same is true of contrary opinion on COVID strategy. The Great Barrington Declaration, for example, was suppressed, though now many public health experts agree that would have been a better approach.
If social media companies want to be protected from liability for content under section 230 of the CDA, they must follow the same standards on censorship we would demand from the government itself.
How about fighting words? Shouldn’t they be blocked?
The Supreme Court has ruled that fighting words are not protected by the Constitution so why should a social media company tolerate them on its platform? A very large portion of what is currently posted on-line would meet the standard for fighting words established in Chaplinksy vs New Hampshire.
“fighting words-those which by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace. It has been well observed that such utterances are no essential part of any exposition of ideas, and are of such slight social value as a step to truth that any benefit that may be derived from them is clearly outweighed by the social interest in order and morality. Resort to epithets or personal abuse is not in any proper sense communication of information or opinion safeguarded by the Constitution, and its punishment as a criminal act would raise no question under that instrument”
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Would that not fall under civility as a cause for moderation?
“Fighting words” as a legal concept, however, leads to a very slippery slope. Some people take offense very easily and their feelings should not trump another person’s freedom of speech.
And yet I hear no complaints about media outlets such as FOX News being one-sided. If FOX can do it, why can’t Twitter?
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FOX is a content provider and not protected by section 230 of the CDA.
Twitter is a platform, not a content provider, and enjoys section 230 liability immunity as such. But if the full spectrum of ideas is posted to Twitter, but they only allow some parts to be seen, then they cross the line to content providing by altering the input, and thus should lose section 230 protection.
If they want to be protected as a platform, then they must all ideas not involving criminal acts to be treated the same.
“ Twitter is a platform, not a content provider, and enjoys section 230 liability immunity as such.”
So remove the immunity. Once platforms become responsible for what is posted or hosted, you will not see anything more controversial than recipes.
Anonymity is a problem in politics. It allows Jones, Trump, Green and others to issue threats via representatives who escape scrutiny and legal problems. (Similarly, it allows donors to buy candidates without broadcasting what they expect in return.) It also eliminates civility.
It took a decade and millions in legal fees to hold Jones accountable for the misery imposed on victim’s families, including having to move and hire security because of anonymity.
If you are not willing to confront in person, then why should you be given a platform to confront millions anonymously.
You refer to Twitter as the Town Square…except it is not. Town Square requires a person to confront face to face. Sitting at a keyboard with a bag of Cheetos under a pseudonym creates a wall for the coward.
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Does anyone know if allowing comments on articles or opinions in media is crossing a line between “provider” and “platform”?
NYT moderates scrupulously the comments that are posted on their site. I am sure others do too to varying degrees.
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The NYT is a content provider, I do not know if its comments section would qualify as a platform, though if it is unbiased, it should. If it is filtered to support one point of view over others, then it is content again.
I don’t read the NYT, how is their comment section moderated? By point of view or by civility or legality?
If a photographer takes a picture lit by sunlight, and prints it, what he took the picture of is the content.
If he instead uses a yellow filter to exclude blue light, changing the mood of the image, the picture no longer truly represents the subject, and the resulting print is new content.
I don’t know for sure, but on controversial subjects there are opposing views. I do know that a live person moderates. A few years ago, my wife submitted a comment and they emailed back later an asked if there was any objection to put it the print edition on Sunday.
Civility is paramount. I have never even seen slang nicknames like libtards or tRump. And not “f*$#” ever.
Literacy helps. Most letters have some decent command of the English language, but not edited. I have seen a typo or two of mine slip through.
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I know. I know, you poor pacifist lefties. Whats a poor pacifist lefty domestic terrorist to do these days with conservatives looking over your shoulder?
Left extremes vs. right extremes. Find where the majority lie, and you come to reality. You seem to LOVE to find the most extreme examples of left-wing bad behavior while CHEERING or downplaying similar behavior from the extremes on the right. January 6th is the PERFECT example.
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